Carissa F. Etienne on PAHO's 120th Anniversary: solidarity can help build a healthier and more hopeful future for all

2 Dec 2022
Carissa F. Etienne on PAHO's 120th Anniversary

Washington, DC, December 2, 2022 (PAHO)- The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa F. Etienne, released a message today to mark the Organization’s 120th Anniversary.

"For 120 years, the Americas have relied on cooperation because we have understood that our health, our security and our prosperity are interdependent," the PAHO Director said.

As I look back over the years and the history of this institution, I’m reminded of the power and importance of solidarity to build a healthier, more hopeful future.”

In 1902, a meeting organized by President Theodore Roosevelt in the U.S. capital brought together eleven countries to develop a plan to control yellow fever and marked the beginning of what would become PAHO.

Since then, PAHO and its Member States have eradicated diseases, built health systems and ensured more people in the Americas can live healthy and productive lives.

"Our region has done these things even in spite of political differences, in the midst of global and national conflicts, and throughout the many challenges the Americas have faced," said Dr. Etienne, who has led PAHO for the past decade.

During her tenure alone, the Americas eliminated endemic transmission of measles and rubella, eight countries ended mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, and four eliminated river blindness. In addition, countries faced together epidemics of Zika and Chikungunya, outbreaks of cholera, yellow fever, influenza and COVID-19.

"The pandemic has stood out in scale and scope, but it has underscored, like never before, the importance of solidarity and Pan-Americanism as a foundation for responding to crises," the PAHO Director said.

“Regardless of the challenges that lie ahead,” she emphasized, “we continue to rely on our regional values of solidarity and collaboration and our unwavering commitment to health equity."

Dr. Etienne delivered the message at an event at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC, which brought together Member State representatives, public health experts and partners to celebrate PAHO’s anniversary.